5/20/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in a prayer call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
Myanmar: Population 54.8 million, Christians 4.3 million [8%]
Religious nationalism is especially strong in Myanmar and drives much of the persecution of Christians. There is an increasing emphasis on Buddhism, to the exclusion of all other religions. Converts to the Christian faith often face persecution from their families and communities for leaving, or “betraying,” the system of belief they grew up in. Communities who aim to stay “Buddhist only” make life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use community resources such as water.
Well-established churches have been attacked, and in some instances, Buddhist monks have invaded church compounds and built Buddhist shrines inside. Non-traditional church groups experience opposition too, especially those located in rural areas and/or are known for evangelistic activity. The government tries to act against extremist Buddhist monks, but sends mixed signals, since it has become clear that extremist monks enjoy the support of the army.
Myanmar is the scene of the longest civil war in the world, which began in 1948. Although much media attention has been given to the plight of Rohingya Muslims, the ongoing war against insurgent groups—which affects, among others, the states of Kachin, Karen and Shan (all of which have a strong Christian minority)—have gone largely unnoticed. The predominantly Christian Chin State was also affected by fighting. Christians are vulnerable to persecution by insurgent groups and the army, and more than 100,000 Christians in the north live in Internal Displacement Camps (IDPs) where they are deprived of access to food and health care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought added challenges, since many Christians are deliberately overlooked in the distribution of government aid.
Myanmar has jumped one place from last year, reflecting the ongoing severe persecution facing many Christians. Converts continue to encounter tremendous hostility from family and the local community, while believers remain caught up in the fighting plaguing the states of Kachin, Shan and Karen, all of which have a significant Christian population, as well as predominantly Christian Chin State.
Christians in Kachin State, in the north of the country, are especially exposed to persecution. Due to the ongoing fighting, more than 100,000 people—mostly Christian—are living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, most of them for years, and humanitarian access to them is blocked. Fighting continues as well in neighboring Shan State, which has a large minority of Christians, especially in the north. Chin State, which is predominantly Christian, has also been the site of a great deal of conflict.
From the coronavirus to cyclones, few have faced the litany of scourges confronting the Rohingya people today. While we must assist the Rohingya to weather these storms, we cannot forget why they find themselves in such vulnerable circumstances in the first place. Almost three years ago, the Myanmar government unleashed a campaign of violence forcing the majority of the Rohingya population to flee. Now is the time to call these crimes what they are: genocide.
In the span of a few days in May, nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in mega camps in Bangladesh faced the arrival of the coronavirus and the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal. The coming monsoon season threatens flooding and landslides. Hundreds more Rohingya are stranded at sea after being turned back from the shores of Malaysia and Bangladesh. Many are feared to have drowned.
This is the result of decades of persecution and the Myanmar military’s campaign of murder, mass rape, and destruction in late 2017. This Tuesday will mark three years since that mass expulsion. As these anniversaries accumulate, there is a real danger that the international community will grow accustomed to their passing. These atrocities cannot become just another chapter in the long history of state violence in Myanmar. Genocide is the gravest crime a government can commit. Accountability for that crime is essential if the Rohingya are to ever feel safe in their homeland.
Villagers with animistic beliefs take vengeance against Christians, claiming they are angering the local spirits. Church gatherings and church buildings are allowed in many parts of the country, but tolerance varies from state to state. Active believers who share their faith face difficulties. Within tribal groups, families oppose conversion and new believers are subject to close government monitoring. Buddhist monks have actively opposed new Christian converts and evangelists. Pastors face arrest and are usually held for a few days at a time.
Bibles can be purchased and owned legally in small numbers, but most people cannot afford them. While bookstores in large cities sell Bibles, they are unavailable in many regions. Most Burmese Bibles are smuggled into the country.
- Pray to the Lord for the military to return power to the civilian government leaders.
- Pray that the Lord will intervene and bring a peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil war.
- Pray to the Lord to protect the church leaders who are often targeted by Buddhist extremists and paramilitary groups.
- Pray to the Lord to disqualify the power hunger generals using the military for their purposes.
- Pray for those who have left Buddhism to follow Jesus – that God will strengthen, encourage and protect them.
- Ask that all believers in Myanmar will receive and enjoy fruitful fellowship with other Christians.
- Pray to the Lord that all the internally displaced people, including Christians, can soon return to their native homes.
- Pray for NGOs like VOM to distribute church materials, Bibles and provide training to Christians and provide emergency shelter and food.
- Pray for the release of all Christians imprisoned or held captive, and for the safety of all Christians as they go about their daily lives.
- Pray for the protection of church buildings and safety for the worshippers
- Pray for special protection of converts from the Buddhist faith, that they can withstand pressures from family and community.
- Pray to give the persecuted the ability to pray for and forgive their persecutors.
- Pray for the medical outreach teams.
- Pray that the Lord will continue to mightily add to the numbers of believers and have His hand of protection on the church.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018, pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped and now waiting for a visa to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
Prayer Conference Call Details
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.
The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.
With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.
Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.
If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.
Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.